Accounting Courses

What Does an Accountant Do?

Accounting courses are a very popular choice to study. However, what does that really mean? We all know that accountants work with money and numbers but is that really all? What makes for a good accountant? Is there more than one kind of accountant? Once you start to really think about it there are more questions than most of us have answers for. This article will shed some light on the role, duties, skills and qualities of an accountant as well as the courses that are available out there

Types of Accountants

One of the most common mistakes people make is thinking that there is only one kind of accountant. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many different kinds of accountants, all specialising in a different field. Some of the most common types of accountants are:

Debtors Clerk

A Debtors Clerk is a accounting professional that keep track of accounts that are paid or unpaid. Keeping track of money owed to the business the Debtors Clerks main duty. Often including some bookkeeping duties. Read more here

Bookkeeper

A Bookkeeper facilitates the payment of bills, money due to the business and the payroll. Keeping a record known as General Ledger account and reconciling it. Reporting all financial information to the owner or board of directors. Find out more here

Financial Manager

Financial Managers review the budget, manage statements, draw up reports, and plan the financial future of a business. They work with the executives and board to make financial decisions for the business. To know more click here

Accountant

Accountants collect and record all financial information for a business. The collected information is then reported to the executives and the external audience. They manage the cash flow of the business to ensure that the business is healthy financially and has the opportunity to grow. Find out more here

Certified Public Accountants (CPA)

CPA’s are experts in their field and their job is much more than just about taxes. They are often considered as advisors to their clients. They help their clients reach financial goals as well as doing accounting records and taxes. Other tasks that they are involved in are things like forensic accounting, consulting, and legal matters. 

Forensic Accountant

Ever thought that accountants can be detectives too? Forensic accountants will look through the financial records of a person or company to look for any evidence of fraud or any other illegal transactions. Forensic accountants often work with investigative professionals and can even be called to go to court as an expert witness. 

Auditor

Every organisation needs to do an audit at least once a year to make sure that all their records are in order. An auditor is usually brought in from outside of the company. This is to make sure that they are completely impartial when doing the audit. 

Auditors have to spend hours going over accounting books, financial statements, accounting systems, and financial records to make sure that everything is in order. Another thing about auditors is that many of them choose to specialise in a particular industry. 

Management Accountant

Management Accountants have a huge amount of responsibility. This is because they help to advise companies on major decisions. When a company needs to make a huge decision, they need to know what the state of their finances are and what consequences, both good and bad, the decision might have on their finances. 

Cost Accountant

Cost Accountants help a business to decrease their costs. This lets the company make more profits. A Cost Accountant goes over all of a company’s expenses trying to find ways to save money. They look at production costs, labour costs, shipping costs, admin costs, material costs, and more. 

Once they have looked at all this information, a Cost Accountant will create a report which they give to the business executives. This report is then discussed and decisions are made on where to cut costs and how to save money. 

Government Accountant

Every branch of the government uses money, and they need someone to keep track of it all. This is where a Government Accountant comes in. A Government Accountant makes sure that the money received from taxpayers is used correctly. They also help the department to plan ahead for the coming financial year. 

A Government Accountant can also work for the South African Revenue Service (SARS). While working for SARS a Government Accountant will do things like audits of private companies or maybe even individuals. 

Project Accountant

Project Accountants work on different projects the entire time. These could be things like product launches or even the construction of a new building.  While working on a project, these accountants are responsible for everything that affects the costs involved in a project. This includes doing things like approving expenses, checking the hours that an employee needs to be paid for, collecting any and all invoices, planning the budget, and making sure that everyone is staying within the project’s budget. 

Investment Accountant

These accountants usually work for brokerage or asset management companies. They work in the fast-paced world of investments. An Investment Accountant works with things like bonds, stock trading, currencies, and more. 

The main purpose of an Investment Accountant is to make sure that their client’s investments are safe and making as much money as possible while making sure that everything is legal. 

Staff Accountant

This is one of the most common kinds of accountants. Staff Accountants have a lot of different responsibilities. This is because a Staff Accountant is a much more general position. These accountants will do things like managing payroll, managing a company’s money, creating financial reports, and even supervising other staff members. 

So as you can see, accounting is a much wider field than you might first have imagined and there are many other kinds of accountants too. Other accounting jobs and careers you can consider include jobs like Purchasing Manager, Tax Advisor, Economist, Budget Analyst, or even Investment Consultant. With so many specialised fields of accounting, there is sure to be something that interests and suits you. 

The Duties of an Accountant?

With so many different kinds of accountants, you might think that the duties are just as varied. While each kind of accountant does have its own duties, the general duties of an accountant is the same for all of them. These duties include things like:

  • Making sure financial records are all in order, 
  • Monitoring all incoming and outgoing payments,
  • Checking employee expenses and expense claims,
  • Collecting and analysing all the financial data to see what the financial health of a company or individual is,
  • Analysing the data they collect to see where a company is making and losing money, 
  • Creating reports to show all the financial data, and even
  • Checking that the best possible software is used to collect data and manage the finances. 

There are many other duties that an accountant might need to do as well. Some of these other duties include creating budgets, appraising and creating an inventory of property and equipment, and creating manuals to help accounting staff do their jobs more efficiently. 

What Skills Does an Accountant Need?

As you can imagine, with so many different duties to do, an accountant also needs many different skills. Naturally, the biggest skill you need is being good at numbers and math as this makes up the main part of what an accountant does. Some of the other most commonly needed skills are:

  • Analytical Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Technology Skills
  • General Business knowledge
  • Leadership Skills
  • Customer Service Skills

Analytical Skills

This is probably the most important skill, next to math skills, that an accountant needs. The reason for this is because not only must you be able to do calculations, but you need to be able to understand what this means and what it could mean going forward too. 

Being able to interpret the information you collect is very important to help you to make decisions and suggestions to help a company do well financially. It will also let you see problems and maybe even prevent them from happening. 

Communication Skills

You might imagine an accountant as someone who is sitting at a desk working with numbers the whole day, but talking is a big part of their job too. Accountants need to speak to people in different departments, to their own team, and even to the heads of the company.

Accountants need to be able to explain the information that they have in a way that anyone can understand, and they need to be able to give clear instructions and suggestions. This makes communication skills a very important thing for an accountant to have. 

Technology Skills

As strange as it may sound, an accountant needs to have excellent knowledge of many computer systems. It is important for accountants to keep up to date on the latest accounting software and being able to see if a program is providing the best possible data. 

The more senior accountants will also need to be able to train new employees on the various systems that the company uses. This means that they need to understand these programs very well. 

General Business Knowledge

No matter how good an accountant is it doesn’t mean anything if they don’t have at least a general understanding of business and how businesses work. This is because they need to be able to interpret the information they get. Accountants need to understand a business well enough to be able to really know what their calculations actually mean for the company. 

Leadership Skills

Accountants usually work as part of a team. This could be a team of other accountants or even just the project team. This means that an accountant needs to be able to work well with others, take initiative, and take charge when needed. They also need to be able to give good suggestions and take decisions at any time. 

Customer Service Skills

It doesn’t matter if you work in public or private accounting, you need good customer service skills. This is because the people you are helping are your customer. If you work in a more public accounting position, you need to be able to help and keep customers coming back to your company. If you work in a more private environment, the company you work for are your client. 

Accountants need to listen to exactly what it is that their client needs, wants, and are worried about. Having a good and positive attitude will make clients feel more relaxed. Your client doesn’t want to work with someone who doesn’t make them feel reassured. 

There are many other more specialised skills that are important or useful for an accountant, however. If you want to go into an accounting career it is important to make sure what skills you will need and make sure that you get or develop those skills. 

Accounting Courses

Naturally, one of the best ways to get the skills and knowledge that you need as an accountant is by studying accounting courses. There are many different degrees in accounting and finance that you can study at a university. However, maybe you couldn’t go to university, or you studied something else and are working so you don’t have the time to go back and study again. Fortunately, you can still study. 

There are many other companies and colleges that offer a wide variety of accounting courses and diplomas that you can look into. You might think that even with all these options, you don’t have the time to study. This is where Distance Learning can help you. 

Distance Learning allows you to study in your own time and from the comfort of your own home. This means that you can make time to study even if you work full-time. There are many different colleges and companies that offer Distance Learning courses. One of the best options, ever, is Skills Academy. 

What makes Skills Academy such a great option is the fact that they offer several different courses in accounting. These options mean that you will find something that suits your needs. Whether it is a full diploma course or even just a short course to refresh your memory or teach you the basics, Skills Academy can help you. 

Skills Academy’s Accounting Courses

As mentioned, Skills Academy offers a range of courses. From accredited courses to diploma courses and even non-accredited provider programmes, Skills Academy has a course to suit everyone. 

ICB Courses

The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) is an organisation that is focused on providing training in accounting and business fields. Skills Academy is accredited to offer all five study streams on offer by the ICB. These streams are broken down into several courses each. These study streams are:

The Financial Accounting stream consists of four courses, namely:

The Public Sector Accounting stream has three courses. These courses are:

One of the advantages of studying any of the ICB accounting courses is that each course gives you a qualification. This means that you don’t need to study all of the courses before you can get a qualification. Another advantage of these qualifications is that they are recognised nationally as well as internationally. 

If you study the Financial Accounting courses you can even study further once you finish them. The ICB has partnered with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). Through this partnership, you can study through CIMA once you finish your ICB studies. Finishing your ICB courses will allow you to apply for up to six exemptions at CIMA, which makes your studies that much shorter and simpler. However, the best thing about studying further through CIMA is the fact that you can earn a degree. 

National Diploma Courses

Skills Academy has recently also added National Diploma courses to the products that they offer. Among these courses is a National Diploma in Financial Management. National Diplomas are nationally recognised qualifications that are accredited by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO).

The National Diploma in Financial Management consists of three separate certificates namely the N4, N5, and N6 certificates in Financial Management. Each of these certificates will take you 12 months to complete. Apart from the courses, you will also need to do 18 months of practical work. This can be done during or after your studies. 

Once you have completed all three certificate courses and the required practical experience you will receive a National Diploma in Financial Management. 

Short Courses

Skills Academy also offers its own in-house short courses in Financial Management. These non-accredited short courses are perfect for people who want to learn the basics or just want to refresh their knowledge. 

The three short courses Skills Academy offers are:

These courses are four, eight, and 12 months long respectively. Each level contains all the information of the levels below it. This means that you don’t need to study all of them. You can choose which one you want to study. 

Another great thing about these courses is that all three of them have the same entry requirements. All you need to be able to study these courses are Grade 10, to be at least 16 years old, and the ability to write and read in English. 

What Makes Accounting a Good Career?

There are many different things that make accounting a good career. One of the biggest is that as this article shows, there are so many different careers you can go into. This means that the amount of job opportunities is incredibly high as well. 

Another thing that makes this a good career choice is the fact that there will always be a need for people with these skills. Computers can do a lot of work, but people will always be needed to analyse the data and make decisions and suggestions. This means that you will have a very high level of job security, more so than most other careers.  

It is also a career that can give you a lot of flexibility. Many accountants choose to work from home. This means that they can set their own hours and schedules as they wish. It is also very easy for an accountant to start their business from home. 

Of course, one of the biggest advantages is that accountants and people in the financial industry are generally paid very well. According to PayScale, the average annual salary for an accountant in South Africa is R315 000. (Note: This information was correct at the time of writing and is subject to change.)

As you can see, there are so many advantages to being an accountant that it is definitely a good career choice. 

Why is Accounting so Important

Accounting is a very important industry even if it doesn’t seem so. The reason for this is that accounting plays a very big part of both business finances and personal finances. In today’s world, no person or company can do well without proper accounting. 

Importance of Personal Accounting

Having a basis in accounting will also help you as a person. You will be better able to manage your own finances and spending. You will be able to keep track of where you spend money and see where you can save money. This skill is very good as it gives you an idea of what accounting requires in a larger company or business. 

Important of Business Accounting

No business can function without money. Whether it is a multinational company, a home business, or a non-profit organisation, every company needs money to work. This money needs to be managed and kept track of. That is where an accountant comes in. 

Another reason why accounting is so important in business is that an accountant doesn’t only monitor the money, but also the transactions. This means that an accountant also makes sure that all a company’s business dealings are legal and above board.

Think Accounting Courses are Right for You?

If you think this is the right career path for you, you can contact Skills Academy toll-free on 0800 39 00 27 and one of their consultants will help you. Their consultants will be able to answer all your questions and even help you to register for one of their accounting courses. You can also fill in the form on their website and one of their consultants will call you back.